Friday, October 22, 2010

ECOWAS-TGOG in Cross-Border Cooperation


Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Government of The Gambia recently held two-day cross-boarder cooperation aimed at transforming the region into a borderless entity and promoting regional integration.

The programme which was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Lands was held at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Bijilo.  The meeting, being the first cross-border cooperation to be held in The Gambia was centered on the theme ‘Paving the way for the institutionalisation of cross-border cooperation at national level in the sub-region.’ 

The North Bank Evening Standard gathers that the concept of cross-border cooperation was officially introduced and adapted in the integration agenda of ECOWAS following a decision by the Authority of Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS in Niamey, Niger in January 2006.

In 2007, ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments also adapted a strategic vision to transform West Africa into a borderless region which focuses on bringing citizens of West Africa and the regional institution closer together, a step aimed at moving from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of people by the year 2020.
 
Other aims of the programme include sensitising stakeholders on the operational modalities and implementation strategies of the programme as well as inform them of the various cross-border cooperation initiatives undertaken the pilot operation zone- Southern Senegambia; soliciting political support and leadership in the implementation process and identify concrete steps to sustain strategic partnership; establishing necessary coordinating and management structures at local and national levels, develop national action plans in furtherance of the regional cross-border cooperation strategy; and to identify areas for cooperation and feasible cross-border development projects. 
Pierre Tamba, the Minister of Local Government and Lands assured that his ministry will always partner and work tirelessly with line ministries and other stakeholders towards the realisation of the objectives of the CBC programmes and initiatives. According to him, though cooperation programmes should be tailored according to particular situation faced by each border region. “It is important that more effort is made to concentrate support on key priorities in order to ensure economic growth and job creation,” he said.

Baboucarr Jallow, the Minister of Trade and Employment hailed the sub-regional body for pursuing sub-regional integration with vigour and enthusiasm for the past several years.

“In recent years, cross-border issues have preoccupied the development agenda of the region in pursuit of ensuring free movement of peoples good and services,” he said. He noted that the protocol on free movement of people and goods is one of the most critical instruments of sub-regional integration and called on all member states to do their utmost for its implementation. 

Kinza Jawara-Njai of the Department of Free Movement at the ECOWAS Commission says that the cross-border cooperation programme was developed with the aim of bringing the regional integration process and local population closer together mainly to de-marginalise border areas, reduce poverty and achieve rapid
socio-economic development and integration in the sub-region through the creation of concrete and feasible joint development projects in all sectors that are achievable within a short time limit in order to promote and
consolidate peace, security, stability and development in border zones in particular and the entire region in general.

According to her, the cross-border initiatives programme is an important tool to achieve the new vision of ECOWAS, making it a major component of the development agenda of the sub-regional body.

She added that the concept which focuses on the benefits of cross-border area dynamics has since been developed and has been transformed into a concrete programme which serves as a tool to promote regional
integration as well as contribute to efforts at accelerating the integration process in West Africa. VOL:2 ISSN:118

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